FOOD HISTORY: Danish Pastry

Danish pastry is a sweet pastry made from yeast dough rolled with butter in many layers, baked in many shapes and frequently filled with pastry cream, preserves, nuts, cheese or custard. It evolved and was perfected in Denmark but with a very great assist from Austria via France and Italy. Danish pastry dough is a variation of the French invented Puff Pastry (see Post 6/9/2011) The French baker who invented Puff Pasrty took his invention to Italy where it was called, "folded pastry". Italian bakers took this 'folded" pastry making technique to Austria. When a strike by pastry workers in Copenhagen, Denmark went on for a long time, Danish  bakery owners requested help from bakers in other countries to fulfill their customer's needs. Much of this help came from Viennesse bakery workers who came to Copenhagen for work. Danish bakers, inspired by the Viennese bakers, began to develop their own "layered" technique using rich Danish butter. When their own dough was perfected, they continued to invent multiple shapes for these pastries and added a variety of fillings to be encased within them. To show their gratitude to the Viennesse for their contribution to the invention of Danish Pastry, these pastries were, and still are, called, "Wienerbrod" (Vienna Bread) in Denmark. These pastries were introduced into the United States in 1915 by a Danish baker, named L.C. Klitteng, who baked them for President Woodrow Wilson's wedding. Later, Klitteng successfully encouraged Herman Gertner, the owner of a chain of restaurants in N.Y,  to serve his pastries in the Gertner restaurants. Gertner did this and the pastries became an instant success. These pastries, originating in Denmark as "Vienna Bread", now are eaten and enjoyed around the world and are called by their English designation "Danish Pastry".